Indus Valley Civilisation - Pride of Indigenous Dalits


 During earlier colonial times it was thought that the Aryans 'civilised' India, but this has long since proved to be wrong. Indus Valley culture which started with village settlements some 8000 BCE flourished between 2300 to 1700 BCE over nearly a million square kilometers. Some of the achievements that belong to this civilisation are city planning, pictographic script, standardised weights and measures, seals, pottery, ornaments, cultic artwork, secular artwork, baths and drainage system and much more. Scholar now believe that there is even evidence of silk manufacture at Harappa.  Dalits can be justly proud of their forefather's and foremother's achievements.

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Valmik the Unbowed


 Valmik- Bandit or Divine Poet?

According to later (but not earlier) Hindu texts Valmik was a reformed bandit.

Valmiki community, however, reveres him as the divinised poet-saint who composed two of the most important sacred texts of India: Valmiki Ramayana and the Yogavisistha Ramayana. The above controversy has been detailed in a very scholarly manner by the late Professor Juila Leslie of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Professor Leslie's findings are contained in her book (See Source below). To date no one has refuted this work which establishes Shri Guru Bhagwan Valmik Ji's credentials as the adi-kavi, fighter for justice and possibly the first anti-caste eco-warrior who opposed Aryan expansion into the indigenous Indian adivasi territory. In one of our future articles we will be looking at true story of Ramayana.

Source: Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions - Hinduism and the Case of  Valmiki by Julia Leslie, published by Ashgate Publishing Limited, UK 2003. 

Indeginous Indian Tribal Society


Indian Tribal Society - the building blocks of Indian society

Indigenous Indian or adivasi tribal clans were the original building blocks of the castes or caste-clusters. Every aspect of the caste system, with the obvious exceptions of absence of hierarchy and of sexual inequality is found in the true tribal society.

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Race, Racism and Caste

It has been claimed e.g. in Dalit Voice journal that Dalits (Untouchables) are the Blacks of India. There is an element of truth in this, but this is not the whole truth.

Race has been discredited as a scientific concept and physical features  were only one factor in the evolution of the caste system. Caste has many components out of which skin colour is but one and it can be misleading one at times, as black Brahmins and fair skinned untouchables do exist and not in small numbers either. Generally speaking most people from the same area in India tend to have similar physical features. Taking race as the major factor in the evolution of the caste system fails to answer the question of why racism in Africa and Aryanisation/Brahminisation in India should have led to two different types of social systems although the exploitative nature of the two was the same. Africa had also produced its own version of the caste system although not on the same scale as in India. Exclusively focusing on 'race' also leads to the denial of class as a factor in caste formation. The common feature between racism and casteism is that the first one is the product of 19th and 20th century Western colonialism and the second one being the product of internal colonisation of India.

These 2 theoretical conceptual issues came up in practice in Durban South Africa in 2001 at WCAR when as a tactical measure, the Indian Government claimed that caste could not be equated to race. This was countered by Dalit activists by raising the slogan "Caste is Racism and Worse".

For differences between caste and race see video by Prof Rachel McDermott of Harvard.

See the blog on caste and race and on Indian Government sponsored anthropologists. See also Tehelka news item on WCAR controversy and the Rafto Prize, and Dag Erik Berg's academic paper on WCAR .